MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have seen players go through concussions before. Most notably, Justin Morneau was sidelined for the second half of the 2010 season when he was hit in the head while sliding into second base in Toronto.
With that image not yet faded from the Twins’ minds, it was understandable for Minnesota to worry when a similar situation happened to third baseman Trevor Plouffe last week. Plouffe took a knee to the head from Braves second baseman Dan Uggla while sliding into the base in Atlanta.
Plouffe was immediately dazed and had a headache. He was also nauseous the day after, “kind of like I was hung over,” Plouffe said. Because of that, the Twins put Plouffe on the 7-day concussion disabled list, which was instituted by Major League Baseball prior to the 2011 season.
Plouffe was reinstated from the DL on Wednesday and was in Minnesota’s lineup at third base. While his symptoms lasted just a day, he felt it was the right move to take the full seven days.
“Going on the 7-day DL was the right thing to do, just because of the history here with concussions,” Plouffe said. “I think you’ve got to err on the side of caution.”
It was only four days after Plouffe was placed on the 7-day DL that the Twins had to make use of it again. Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez collided with fellow outfielder Josh Willingham during the game Saturday in Detroit and was knocked to the ground.
Ramirez said he tasted blood as he laid on the outfield grass, but it was from a cut on his lip. He left the game and did not play in Sunday’s series finale. That night on the team flight to Milwaukee, Ramirez felt nauseous and threw up — despite telling the team and doctors the day before that he felt fine.
“Ramirez came out saying he was fine and irritated at all of us for putting him on it and then I think we realized after the fact he got sick,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You have to understand where we’re at in this game with these things and just let them get well. That’s the bottom line. Scary, yes. Any time you see a guy get hit in the head out there, it’s a scary situation.”
When Morneau suffered his concussion in 2010, there was no 7-day DL for the Twins to put him on. It turns out it wouldn’t have made a difference in Morneau’s case, as his effects lingered into the 2011 season. But for instances like Plouffe or Ramirez, it’s a good option to make sure everything is good to go before putting the players back on the field.
Ramirez is scheduled to have an ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test Wednesday afternoon with the Twins doctors, and they’ll determine the next course of action for him after that. He said it’s the first time he’s dealt with a concussion in his career, but Ramirez is a proponent of the 7-day DL.
“You’ve got seven days and you know what’s going on,” he said. “If you don’t feel good or something is wrong, you can go to the 15-day (DL). I think that’s very good.”
As more information has been revealed about the severity of brain injuries and sports, seemingly every league is taking concussions more seriously in this day and age than they did 10 or 20 years ago. Major League Baseball is no different, as players such as Plouffe and Ramirez have to pass a battery of tests before being cleared to play.
Plouffe learned from Morneau to be honest about his situation, and he said he was very upfront with team doctors about how he felt in the days after his injury. As a result, he was back after the seven days without feeling like he was rushing things.
“You want to be careful with that,” Plouffe said. “I think that gives everyone the ability to kind of say, ‘OK, it’s only seven days. I’ll go on and make sure I’m OK.’ Whereas I think guys would fight a lot more if it was the 15-day DL.”